Is this $500 smart oven worth the money?
We took the new June for a spin.
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A few years back, we took a look at the first iteration of the countertop June oven, which bills itself as “the most sophisticated oven ever.” Despite its smart sensors and controls, we found this overloaded toaster oven far from perfect—and definitely not worth its $1,500 price tag. Now that the second-generation June has hit the market at a much more reasonable (if still steep) price of $500, we decided to take a second look.
What is the June oven?
The June is, simply put, a smart countertop convection oven. It has six carbon-fiber elements to provide heat and two convection fans to distribute it in the oven cavity. Temperature sensors inside the oven monitor food as it cooks and adjust the temperature to keep it uniform. Inside the top of the oven, there’s a camera that recognizes some foods and automatically programs a cook setting to suit them.
The June has a sophisticated touchscreen from which you can choose a specific function like Bake, Toast, Broil or Dehydrate, or a program like Meat, Vegetables, Baked Goods, or Toast. After you select one, the oven sets cooking modes, temperatures, and times for you and offers tips such as which rack position to use. You also have the option of programming the oven to cook at a temperature and for a time of your own choosing.
With June, you also get a probe that you can use to cook to a specific internal temperature. You have the option of connecting the oven to WiFi, which allows you to use an app on your phone to monitor and control cooking and receive alerts about cooking progress. The iOS version of the app gives you access to a cookbook of about 150 recipes—this is missing from the Android app. Through WiFi, the June will automatically receive software updates and can connect to Alexa.
How does the June oven look and feel?
The June is much bigger than a typical toaster oven. It can accommodate a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish, a very large chicken, or a very small turkey. It’s nice-looking enough, but not particularly impressive for such a pricey appliance. The front is a glass door trimmed in black plastic, and the top and sides are steel that’s painted silver.
What really wows is the control panel. It looks something like an iPhone screen on the oven door and is just as intuitive to operate. During cooking it displays the cooking program, the cook time remaining, and if you’re using the probe, the internal temperature of the food. When your food is ready, it plays a pleasant little tune.
Included with the oven are a ceramic nonstick baking pan, a stainless-steel oven rack, a stainless-steel roasting rack, and a crumb tray. Cough up an additional $200 and you’ll get the Gourmet Package, which includes an additional baking pan and three air fry baskets, as well as a three-year recipe subscription and a two-year warranty (as opposed to the included one-year warranty).
What can the June oven do?
Basically, the June is a countertop convection oven that can roast, bake, and broil just like any oven. In addition, it has settings for toasting, air frying, dehydrating, slow cooking, reheating, and keeping food warm. What makes it unique is its automatic programming.
In some case its “sees” what you place in the oven and then sets itself—all you have to do is press start. For many other foods, you can select what you want to cook from a list of items on the touchscreen to get the oven’s suggested settings. If you connect your unit to WiFi, not only can you control the oven from an app on a mobile device, you can actually see your food’s progress on your phone or tablet and then adjust the time and temperature remotely. If you follow a recipe from the cookbook on the app, it will automatically program the oven.
What we like
- It has a beautiful control panel that’s intuitive to navigate.
- You can control and monitor food remotely.
- It comes with a temperature probe.
- The automatic programs take some of the guesswork out of cooking.
- To check on food, there’s a bright oven light.
What we don’t like
- It’s expensive.
- It’s large.
- It’s difficult to clean.
How does it perform?
Buttermilk biscuits and chocolate chip cookies baked up nicely both when I used the automatic program and when I used my own desired temperature and baking time. I’d give an edge to the baked goods that I programmed myself: The biscuits cooked a little more evenly while the cookies were just a tad crisper. However, the automatic settings included no preheat time, so those biscuits and cookies were ready sooner. A yellow cake layer rose nicely and came out with an evenly brown crust and a tender crumb. Whether the June is your primary oven or is an adjunct at the holidays, you can use it for baking without compromising on the quality of the results.
Using the app, I made two recipes from the June cookbook: Chicken Piccata Thighs, which is basically a sheet pan dinner, and Spring Vegetable Frittata. In both cases, the recipes were for the most part well-written and easy to follow. They also included videos showing you exactly what to do, which was particularly helpful when it came to inserting the probe into a chicken thigh. The timing for both dishes was perfect and the resulting meals were appealing and delicious.
Here’s where the temperature probe should come in handy. However, when the display showed food was at the correct internal temp and the music played, a roast chicken was too pale and its juices ran pink, so I had to keep it in longer. Sweet potatoes were still hard despite the oven saying they were done. However, an herbed pork roast came out perfectly done with a brown crackling crust.
The bottom line is this: While the oven can choose the cooking mode and temperature and set a timer, you still have to decide for yourself whether or not your food is done the way you like it.
This is an example of giving consumers too many options. You can choose the Toast mode and select your own setting, or the Toast program which programs automatically. Or you can simply place your bread in the oven, and it will recognize that it’s bread or a bagel and set the appropriate program. Regardless of which you choose, the June toasts fairly evenly. It gives a good range of doneness from light to dark for white bread, but you may have to add more time for bagels.
I cooked both boneless skinless chicken breasts and New York strip steaks using the June’s broil function and was very disappointed. There was almost no browning, but what browning did occur seemed to be picked up from contact with the browned drippings on the pan rather than from the heating elements.
A classic beef stew came out with very, very tender meat and veggies. A slow cook success!
To utilize the air fry function, you need to upgrade to the Gourmet Package or buy a set of three air baskets for $50. Based on my results, I wouldn’t say they’re worth the investment.
Everything that I air fried, including both frozen and made-from-scratch French fries and chicken nuggets, came out unevenly browned and barely crispy. June recommends that you line one of the baskets with aluminum foil and place it on the bottom shelf position (presumably to protect the bottom elements from drips) which means you only get two usable baskets for your money. The foil may be impeding air flow and causing the poor results.
June suggests using the optional air fryer racks for dehydrating. Following the recipe in the cookbook for Dried Apple Rings, I got perfect results. I’m just not sure how I feel about running the oven overnight to make 20 apple rings.
The June took 20 minutes to heat up a portion of lasagna for two people and by that time, the cheese was almost burnt on top and the noodles were dry at the edges. When I kept the lasagna hot for another two hours, the temperature continued to climb for the first hour, then dropped, but never as far down as the serving temperature. If you had no other heating method available, you certainly could use the June for heating and keeping food warm, but we’d say these capabilities are not one of its selling points.
Is the June Oven easy to use and clean?
If you were off and running as soon as you took your iPhone out of the box, you’ll have no problem with the June. On the other hand, if you’re one of those people who likes to read the manual from cover to cover before you use a new product and pull it out for advice regularly, you’re out of luck.
The manual that comes with the oven includes information on set up and clean up but few details about cooking. That info is displayed on the screen and in the app. For the most part, the product and the app are very intuitive to use, but there are times when I wished for a manual that spelled things out, such as which rack position to use for various functions. Before you determine which one to use, you have to choose what you’re cooking and scroll through the digital display. If you’re choosing your own temperature and time, you just have to use your own best judgement as to where to place the rack.
Many of the programs automatically incorporate the convection fans, but if you want to set your own temperature, there’s no convection setting or information about how to use the fans unless in Bake or Roast, from which you can select More Options and then opt to turn them on.
During cooking, an interior light remains on, giving you a very good view of your food. I appreciate the phone alerts that pop up a minute before the food is ready and then when it’s done. When I was working at my desk or folding laundry, these alerts prevented me from forgetting that I had food in the oven.
Unfortunately, none of the June’s parts can be cleaned in the dishwasher. To clean the inside of the oven, the manufacturer recommends using oven cleaner, a product that I thought was ancient history and wasn’t happy to be reacquainted with. However, Easy-Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner did a good job of restoring my June to a pristine condition.
The June oven comes with a full one-year warranty. If you upgrade to the Gourmet Package (which includes an extra baking pan and three air fryer baskets as well as a three-year recipe subscription) you get a full two-year warranty.
What owners say
On Google, June has a rating of 4.5 out of 156 reviews. One owner says, “The oven has been excellent and has turned me into a pretty darn good cook.” But another remarks, “Cleaning the oven is an issue.”
I also joined the closed Facebook group for June owners, which has over 2,000 members. For the most part, members of this group love the cooking performance of the oven and share pictures of their creations. However, many express frustration with cleaning, and there are occasional reports of malfunctions. They do report that June has excellent customer service and June occasionally posts with apologies or updates about new software.
One word of caution
There have been some reports of the June turning on and preheating spontaneously. June says that in early September it introduced safeguards to prevent this from happening and has not heard of any instances since then.
According to the manufacturer, it is now necessary for a cooking mode and temperature to be selected on the app before preheating can start, and preheat shortcuts have been eliminated. On the oven itself, you have the option in the settings menu to disable remote preheat. When June is preheated, the heating elements will turn off after 30 minutes if it recognizes that you haven’t placed any food in the oven.
Is the June oven worth it?
If you have a working full-size oven and a countertop toaster of some kind, you don’t need the June oven. But if you need a second oven or are just loathe to “light” your oven because it either heats up the kitchen, doesn’t work properly, or in some other way inconveniences you, the June is an excellent but pricey option.
If you are a totally inexperienced cook, the programming for the most part gives good results and at the very least saves you from trying to determine a cooking temperature or program and suggests the minimal cooking time. You do still have to have some idea how you want your food to look or figure out when it’s ready.
If you’re looking for a less expensive countertop option, we recommend checking out out roundup of the best toaster ovens.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
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